After our tutorial today I was having a brief conversation with Keith regarding how groups are formed. We started discussing injured players deciding to continue in the game at less than 100% and it was suggested that being willing to stay on the field without stating your impairment suggests that you are fully fit and your performance should be treated as such. This however then led to the question how do you choose who to take and when?
The analogy was based on fire brigade, once the alert is sounded the first 5 to get there, get into the truck and go to the emergency, regardless of their skill or experience. This mentality is almost entirely different to the way that teams are selected which is much more along the lines of wait and see who you get later. Eventually however it gets to a point where you have to choose, and your “5 in the truck” are selected from those that have made themself available. In most cases it is a case of keeping places available in case someone new and better shows themself at a later date.
Often when teams are being selected the main focus is on who is the best and who will win the game, but often times this can cause other issues. In the case of the fire brigade the single highest priority is speed of response, and as such whoever is there will do. When selecting a team, or even when putting a playing team on the pitch, you need to know what your priorities are and how you are going to set out to achieve them. Every coach knows that a group of the best individuals will not necessarily make the best team.
So how do you choose who should be on? This is where your philosophy as a coach and team priorities come into play. If you clearly set plans and expectations where people need to meet certain criteria, then these are the criteria that you should use for selecting your team.
Recently Australian cricket has undergone a change in its philosphy surrounding exactly this. Michael Clarke recently wrote an article published in The Daily Telegraph saying “We have to address a culture in which some people from time to time have cruised and taken short cuts.” This meant that they had to make decisions based on who was fitting into the mould of what the coaching staff and captain believed to be best for the Australian cricket team, even at the risk of having a lesser team put on the pitch. “There will be no room for slackers, underachievers or pea-hearts. His culture is embrace the vision, buy-in or leave.”
I completely agree that there needs to be an underlying philosophy that a coach (and the players) should not be willing to compromise on. Although different teams will have different priorities, there always needs to be something they are accountable to, otherwise there is no chance of the team succeding. In some cases this may simply be to perform in matches and get results. When this is the case, players who play poorly are taken off and players who are winning stay on, regardless of the other things they do. NBA basketballer, Allen Iverson is well known for an interview where he asked “how the hell can I make my teammates better by practice?” In this scenario the priority of the team was results and there was no need to worry about how they were achieved. In other teams, as with the Australian cricketers, being part of the team and doing everything you can to support that is more important.
Personally I believe that a champion team will always beat a team of champions, and that is the way that I select my team, and determine who deserves to be on court. When people aren’t doing the right things to support the team, they then miss out on time spent on court, unfortunately this sometimes means that the team as a whole misses out.